There’s nothing good about a phone call in the middle of the night. Still half-asleep, I could hear my wife, “Who? Oh no! What happened?” After a long pause her tone changed from shock to condolence, “I’m so sorry. He’ll be right over. We will be in prayer.” I thought I heard the name Randy, but still unsure, I asked, “Who is it?” She confirmed, “Randy Reagle just died in a car accident.” I couldn’t believe it! We just spent Sunday afternoon with him and his family at the lake. How could this be? I asked the same question that his family and friends have asked, “Why would God allow a 23 year old with so much potential to be taken away?”
In the past few days, God has proven again and again that even though He is not the source of pain, He is always working “all things together for good.” Instead of brooding over the wreck on N.C. 39, He has been bringing to mind Randy’s spiritual walk. Although I knew him less than a year, I witnessed a life that had real struggles, but with a real faith in God. After much prayer, I asked permission from his father if I could share a few lessons from Randy’s life and he graciously agreed.
Randy reminded me that first impressions could be deceiving. I have to admit, the first time I met Randy I thought he was cocky, but something told me to look below the surface. One day I invited him over to my office, expecting to make small talk, and Randy shared with me about his brother Shane, who had died a couple of years ago and how he struggled with his death. What I perceived as arrogance was actually a wound that hadn’t healed. We are so quick to pass judgments on others, especially our youth. We’ll never know the struggles they are going through until we take the time to get to know them.
Randy inspired me with his bold faith for Christ. It was a joy to watch Randy worship. I’ll always remember the last Sunday he was in church. Not long after the Praise Team began singing “Glory to God Forever,” he was on his feet, hand raised, worshipping God, no regard for what anyone would think. A few months earlier we went to a men’s conference where we had to sit on the stage due to lack of space. I was hoping to stay incognito but not Randy. There he was praising God, and when the speaker gave an invitation to rededicate, Randy was the first one off the stage and on his knees in prayer. It showed me that this generation might not worship as I do but it is real nonetheless.
Randy taught me that you don’t have to stop having fun in order to be serious about God. Like any 23-year-old, Randy loved his Xbox, television shows and watersports. He often joked that all his life’s possession was in his wakeboard. But, there was another side to him. His family would often find him by the boat dock reading his Bible for hours. He was especially fond of reading books on how to reach the next generation with the gospel, such as “God without Religion,” “Red Letter Religion,” “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, “God’s Not Dead,” “7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness,” and — oh yes — “Happy Happy Happy” by Phil Robertson. Quite a shock to some of us who think that we are the last great generation!
Randy left me with tremendous hope for the future generation. When I went by the house to plan the memorial service, the family insisted that I see Randy’s room. I was reluctant, not knowing what I would find. As I entered, I smiled to see the bed unmade, typical of Randy. As I glanced across the room, my eyes were drawn to one of our church bulletins pinned to a dry erase board on the wall. It was scribbled all over with notes from a sermon I preached sometime back. But what caught my attention were two words in big block letters, “JESUS SAVES.” In my heart the Holy Spirit whispered, “Randy got it.” This young generation may live on Facebook, dress sloppy, listen to strange music and have a different work ethic, but they do get it, probably better than us.
This verse was tattooed on Randy’s arm: “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity,” Proverbs 24:16.
Originally featured in the Henderson Daily Dispatch